In what might be considered today as one the most politically incorrect advertising slogans ever to escape Madison Avenue, Camel cigarettes used to ask, “Are you smoking more, but enjoying it less?”
We could substitute “working” for “smoking” and turn that into a question that’s quite appropriate for today’s employment scene.
I saw a story on the news a few days ago that was all about the huge number of people who “leave vacation days on the table” each year and eventually lose them. This would be great if the people who are putting in more hours were doing so because they love their work. That’s not usually the reason. Often they feel that:
• Their employment is too tenuous to be away from work, or
• Being away just creates more work for themselves when they return.
Both of these are occurring because downsizing has made job security disappear like a delicate vapor in the wind and people are handling additional responsibilities after coworkers are laid off.
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A painful decline
A recent survey revealed that job satisfaction has gone down in each of the last three years, which is fascinating because it correlates exactly to when the economy supposedly started its recovery after the recession. A mere 38 percent of U.S. employees said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs.
It also turns out that the single most important attribute that contributes to job satisfaction is having “opportunities to use skills and abilities.” In so many traditional workplaces, we get shoehorned into performing a certain task and opportunities to stretch further and really exercise our talents are few.
We speak regularly to some extremely talented people who work in administrative roles at larger companies. Often they don’t appreciate how important their skills can be—and sadly, neither do those for whom they work. That’s the problem of being one cog among hundreds in a large organization. Compare that to what’s happening in a lot of growing small businesses today.
Many dynamic entrepreneurs are working hard developing their ideas to create viable companies. They know how to leverage all the advantages of today’s economy and the Internet. They use virtual assistants from companies like Worldwide101, assemble teams by connecting online to talented people all around the world, and maybe rent an office by the hour—IF they ever need to.
Want to know your true worth?
For administrative professionals who are just one of many in a large environment, working in the virtual world can be a true eye-opener. Suddenly those professionals begin to see their real worth and understand how important their roles are for a company’s success. They are doing work that makes a difference.
If you talk to anyone who has ever been involved in growing a small business or a startup, there is really no experience more exciting in the business world. In a startup, administrative professionals get the “big picture” view of how businesses work and they can find themselves in positions to contribute in ways that are impossible in a larger work environment. Also, they know they are needed. That’s always a good feeling.
Along the way they are able to develop skills and acquire knowledge that they can take with them throughout their careers.
These are the things that really contribute to job satisfaction, and considering that our jobs take the biggest chunk out of almost every day of the week, they are invaluable.